How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in a Mattress in 3 Easy Steps

Your bed is your sanctuary, the place you come to curl up and get away from the stresses of everyday life. So finding a bed bug in your bed is more than disgusting – it’s an absolute outrage.

But don’t worry – you can get rid of them. And you can do it without throwing your expensive mattress away.

Ready to unleash the fury and obliterate these blood suckers? Here’s how to get rid of bed bugs in a mattress in just 3 easy steps.

#1. Create a bed bug free zone

The first thing you want to do is move your bed away from the walls and other furniture. Isolate it in the center of the room if you have to, just make sure it’s not touching anything – only the legs should be touching the floor.

If the bottom of your mattress or box spring is on the floor, get yourself some universal bed legs or bed lifts. Since bed bugs cannot jump or fly, they’re only able to get to your bed by crawling so lifting you bed up allows you to eliminate the majority of the bed bug highway to your bed.

how to get rid of bed bugs

Next, place bed bug traps under all four bed legs. Bed bugs will crawl up the grooved outer edge of the trap and then get stuck in the ridge, preventing them from making their way into your bed.

#2. Heat up the buggers

Get rid of bed bugs on your bedding: Let’s start with the easy stuff – your sheets, pillowcases, and comforter. Strip your bed of everything and wash and dry it at the highest setting.

Wondering what temperature kills bed bugs? It depends how long the heat is sustained. Bed bugs will die at 113 degrees Fahrenheit if it’s sustained for 90 minutes or more. But they’ll die in just 20 minutes at 118 degrees Fahrenheit. Bed bug eggs are a little more resilient – to get rid of them, you need to expose them to 118 degrees Fahrenheit for 90 minutes to reach 100% mortality.

Since clothes dryers typically reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit – you’re in luck. The bed bugs will probably be dead after 30 minutes on high heat, but run it for at least 90 minutes to make sure you killed them all.

Get rid of bed bugs on your mattress: The mattress is a little bit trickier since you can’t just throw it in the wash.

So how to kill bed bugs in a mattress? Steam them to death.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in a Mattress

A professional heat steam treatment costs $300 to $1,200 but you can pick up a home steam cleaner that you can use again and again to clean and sanitize your house, even after you get rid of bed bugs. We recommend the Vapamore Primo Steam Cleaning System – it produces steam at a temperature of 214 degrees, which will kill bed bugs and more importantly, their eggs. And while it is a little pricey, it’s great quality and also comes with a lifetime warranty. 

Steaming is slow, methodical work and will take a bit of patience. You want to move slowly enough that the heat concentration is maintained over every inch of surface – one inch per second is a good pace to remember.

Steam kills within one inch of the steamer tip so maintain at least a one inch distance to the mattress as you steam. Oh, and before you start steaming, wrap a piece of cloth around the tip of the steamer so that the steam coming out doesn’t blow bed bugs and their eggs across the room.

Here’s a helpful video on steaming your mattress.

You’ll also want to steam your box springs and the entire bed frame as well.

#3. Use Diatomaceous Earth to kill the rest

Okay, no more instructions on how to get bed bugs out of your bed – now, it’s all about keeping the remaining bed bugs trapped in the bed.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Mattress

To do this, you’ll need:

  • Food-grade Diatomaceous Earth (DE) – get it here. DE is probably the most popular (and effective) natural bed bug treatment. It’s made up of fossilized sea creatures called diatoms whose bodies are primarily made up of silicon dioxide. When bed bugs come in contact with DE, it begins to absorbs the oils and fats from within the bed bug, drying it to death from the inside out.
  • A mattress cover – get it here. In order for DE to work, bed bugs must come in contact with it. The best way to ensure this happens is to seal off your mattress, preventing any bed bugs from escaping. The best one for this purpose is Sleep Defense System’s bed bug proof mattress cover – it feels great on skin and doesn’t make crinkling noises when you move.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Before you start. Wait until your mattress is dry before sprinkling DE since it must be dry in order for it to work. Also, DE is natural and safe but it can cause irritation if it comes in contact with your skin, eyes or if inhales so wear a face mask, gloves and goggles.
  • Apply the DE. Sprinkle the DE dust throughout your entire mattress. Make sure to distribute it evenly all over the surface so the bed bugs can’t avoid it – if you throw mounds of the stuff here and there, the bed bugs will just walk around it. Use a duster to make it easy to evenly distribute the bed bug-killing powder.
  • Seal it off. Encase your mattress with the cover, making escape impossible for the bed bugs. This mattress cover seals tightly, but just to be safe, put duct tape over the zipper just to make sure not even the tiniest nymphs escape.
  • Make it easy to spot bed bugs. A smart extra step to take to protect yourself from bed bugs is to use light-colored bedding from now on so you can easily spot any bed bugs trying to take up residence on your sheets.

DE can kill bed bugs within 24 to 48 hours after contact, but to make sure you kill all living adult and nymph bed bugs as well as any eggs, keep the mattress sealed like this for at least 4 to 6 weeks.

This should wipe out pretty much all the bastards living in your bed bug mattress, but since there is always the chance that a few may not come in contact with the DE – we recommend you keep the mattress cover on for up to a year.

Why? Bed bugs can live up to a year without a blood meal, so starving any bed bugs that might’ve escaped the DE is a surefire way of making sure you’ve killed all the bed bugs in your mattress. Plus, Sleep Defense’s mattress cover is just as comfortable as sleeping without one.

Okay, that’s it. If you followed all these steps, you’re on your way to a bed bug free mattress! Ready to get started eliminating these nasty bloodsuckers from the rest of your home? Here’s how to get rid of bed bugs everywhere.

Leave a Comment:

Betty Polite says January 27, 2018

This information was very helpful

Renee says July 29, 2018

I put DE on my mattress and encased it. Since I’m going to be sleeping on it, I was wondering if it poses as a health risk. Please respond. Thanks!

Damon says April 26, 2020

My ex-landlord manipulated my mom into heralding the decision of homelessness because she over-reacted to a bed bug infestation that should have already been exterminated before I was leased the apartment in November 2017, not 17 months after the fact.

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